Lately, I’ve been paying attention to Stacey Campfield. Unless you live under a rock, the name should ring a bell. No. Campfield is not the cart return guy at Wal-Mart. He is a Tennessee State Representative (R.- Knoxville, House District 18) I know. You’re thinking – “State Rep, big deal. You never hear anything about those guys; how important can they be? Let’s hear more on the Wal-Mart Guy Cart Scandal!” You have a point. House dwellers normally go unnoticed and don’t make much in the way of national headlines – unless they are arrested, die while in session or stick their foot in their mouth.
Well, Campfield hasn’t been arrested… recently, but I’m telling you right now this cat is “different.” The young lawmaker has collected more moments of notoriety than Drunk-Ass Uncle Lou, who once painted himself orange and did a Striptease in the Swamp during a UT/Florida football game and then used his one phone call to remind his wife to record SportsCenter on ESPN.
Campfield lacks the Decorum and Discretion we expect from our politicians – and I don’t mean his tie is too flashy. Hell no. He is brash, candid, spirited, maybe a little crazy and seems to have a knack – if not for burning bridges – then at least setting them on fire quite often… which if often what happens to trailblazers, who aren’t quite sure yet where they’re going.
Campfield’s claims to fame so far are:
(1)He was forcibly evicted from Jimmy Duncan’s annual barbecue for heckling Gov. Phil Bredesen.
(2) He was one of the first politicians in the State to start his own web log (blog). The Rep went online in early 2005 promising to reveal what happened behind the scenes in Nashville. I don’t know if he’s kept his promise – but he has revealed enough to create some serious bipartisan discomfort. Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Interns who pick their noses when they think no one is looking are all cursing whomever thought it was a good idea to turn Campfield loose w/an internet connection.
(3) This is my personal favorite: In the fall of 2005, the Rep., who is melanin-challenged, found himself in the national spotlight after being rejected for membership in the Black Caucus. Historically, membership in the Black Caucus is limited to those lawmakers who are um…well black. In response, Campfield compared the Caucus bylaws to those of the KuKluxKlan in that they limited membership to a single race. Of course, media outlets everywhere jumped all over this “oh-no-he-didn‘t” moment. Campfield was labeled a racist, and the NAACP called for his resignation.The Rep. later apologized for the misunderstanding but stands behind his statement that the Black Caucus is racist. (Not much in the way of an apology, huh?)
The part of the story media never focused on is this – Campfield raised questions regarding caucus and Chairman Johnny Shaw’s ethics. Shaw, who was likely offended, refused his request for a copy of the BC bylaws. Campfield then attempted to join, claiming he wanted to see how they spent their money. Immediately, the story was leaked to the press. Campfield, with his classic lack of finesse, chewed sneaker with the KKK comment. Shortly thereafter it was discovered that the Caucus receives thousands of dollars in contributions without any financial disclosure requirements – because the group had its corporate charter revoked in 1985. By then, however, the prevailing attitude seemed to be – “No disclosure, hundreds of thousands of dollars from unreported donors – ooooh, that’s bad,,, but damn, did you hear about what that white boy did? ”
(4) Finally, we arrive at the Rep’s tendency to introduce controversial legislation: most recent being a bill requiring death certificates to be issued for each induced termination of pregnancy in the state. (Head over to the General Assembly site for a complete listing of Campfield-sponsored bills. Don’t get too excited if you see one that you support/don’t support though. Most bills sponsored by The Rep are defeated, failed, held in committee or used to make paper airplanes. The reason isn’t always validity of proposed legislation but probably because a majority of the House members (who have at one time or another, been annoyed, embarrassed, harassed, irritated or singled out by Campfield) don’t want to take him seriously. Hell, they don’t even want to play nice.
Unfortunately for those who consider him a “pest” – this is one house cockroach that may not be so easy to exterminate. During the last election, Democrats backed a comer they thought was sure to trounce Crazy Campfield – Schree Pettigrew. Pettigrew launched a rather nasty smear campaign, which didn’t work. Campfield won – and since then, both parties seem to be scratching their head over Camp’s “Pee-Wee Herman I’m Rubber-You’re Glue” qualities.
But it’s no great mystery. Not really.
Voters just like him. They really really like him.
Look, the kid is young, energetic and handsome ( I mean in a wholesome “golly-gee-whiz-ma’am”sort of way.) He exudes confidence and his level of intelligence has been grossly underestimated. He has grabbed the younger voters by using a medium they understand… and as far as the antics – they don’t care. Honestly, these voters are the people who grew up with daily doses of scandal, insanity, brashness, fast-talking, finger-pointing, boob jobs, original rump shakin’ and general all-around jackass type clowning. You think they’d be offended or shocked by Campfield? If anything, the Rep’s outrageous style may make him seem more relatable.
So, wanna know who I think the new face of Tennessee politics be?
Don’t believe me? Wait an see.